Poll Popping For Numbers Junkies By Bob Grundfest

After a respite following the Supreme Court’s decision in the health care case, a flurry of polls has been released in the past two days showing the presidential race nationally and in the states to be close, but slightly in the president’s favor.

The best news for Obama comes in a PPP poll of Wisconsin that shows Obama leading Romney by 50-44%. What makes this result even more impressive is that PPP had a D/R/I split of 30/32/38, while the Wisconsin state breakdown is D 38/ R 34/ I 28, thus under-counting Democrats and overcounting Independents. If Obama is +6 under those conditions, then Romney is in trouble if he wants to peel away this state. Further, a Marquette University poll shows Obama ahead 51-43% using likely voters and a D 29/R 33/I 36 breakdown. As with PPP, this underpolls Democrats, providing even better news for the president.

A new We Ask America poll of Pennsylvania has Obama ahead of Romney by 47-40%, but unfortunately they don’t provide cross-tabs or other data on their polls, so it’s difficult to assess their overall validity. They do advertise that the poll is of likely voters and it does confirm a trend towards the president evident in the RCP average for the Keystone State, so the results do make sense. It would be nice to have some more data, though. We Ask America also released a New Mexico poll, but its results, Obama +11, only confirms other polls that show that state firmly in the blue column.

As for the national polls, here’s a terrific analysis by HuffPost/Pollster’s Mark Blumenthal that essentially shows that the overall race hasn’t budged in months (see chart below).

Blumenthal does point out, though, that when pollsters begin moving from registered voters to likely voter models, probably just before the conventions, we will probably see Mitt Romney pick up support since LV polls tend to favor Republicans. My take on these national surveys is that Romney has not yet risen above 47% support. If that’s his ceiling, he’s in trouble. If he begins polling above that consistently, then he will likely win in November.

Of course, there are some ominous signs for the president in some of the numbers. His approval ratings haven’t budged and he’s still underwater on his job performance. Jay Cost has an interesting analysis of why this does not bode well for Obama. Also, Obama’s standing among blue collar men has dropped to new lows according to both the Quinnipiac and ABC/WaPo surveys. The president didn’t rely on this group in 2008, but they will be key in close swing states such as Iowa and Ohio.

A spate of Senate polls has good news for the Democrats (and Angus King in Maine, who will probably caucus with the Democrats if he wins) in Virginia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and New Mexico. Florida provides the best news for the GOP with Connie Mack leading Bill Nelson by 9%.

That’s the snapshot at this moment in time and the summer usually doesn’t provide much guidance as Americans focus more on their vacations, finding a job, and the Olympics. The political scene will begin to heat up next month and we’ll get a better sense of the state of the race. – BG




2012 Presidential polling data

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